Business Management vs. Accounting: Which Degree is Right for You?

Business Management vs. Accounting

The world of business seems large, foreign and intimidating. You know you want to go into business, but when you pursue your options for school, you’re overwhelmed with choices. With so many Business degrees to choose from, it can be hard figuring out what best fits your interests and goals.

If you have recently been debating, comparing or even just wondering about the differences between earning a degree in Business Management versus Accounting, then you’re in the right place. We’ve sorted through the facts to provide you a look at the similarities and differences between Business Management and Accounting—helping you earn the right degree for you.

Business management vs. accounting: Job opportunities

One of your first questions may be, “What can I do with a Business Management or Accounting degree?” Knowing what your end options are can help you narrow down your decision.

We used real-time data analysis software to analyze over 224,000 accounting jobs and two million management jobs.1 We gathered up some of the top job titles for each field to help you get a more in-depth look at what you can do with each degree.

Top Job Titles

Top business management job titles Top accounting job titles
Sales manager Accountant
Account manager Staff accountant
Store manager Accounting manager
Marketing manager Tax accountant
Project manager Cost accountant

Business management vs. accounting: Career growth and salaries

Now that you know some of the top job titles for each field, you may be curious about the general career stability for each. Whether you pursue a degree in Accounting or Business, no choice is a bad choice. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for accountants and auditors is projected to grow 10 percent from 2016–2026. For management analysts, a 12 percent growth in employment is expected. Both of these are faster than the national average of seven percent for all jobs. This means that you can expect excellent job stability no matter which field you choose.

And while stability is one motivating factor, you also want a job that can support your family. We’re here to tell you good news. In 2016, the median wage for accountants was $68,150, with the lowest 10 percent earning $42,140 and the top earners bringing in $120,910.2 The average management analyst salary was $81,330, with the lowest 10 percent earning $46,560 and the top earning $149,720.2 Remember that it will likely take a few years’ experience to build up to those higher-earning numbers, but now you have an idea of what to expect going into either field.

For those still earning an hourly paycheck, annual salaries like these are something to get excited about. However, before you focus too heavily on pay, you will need to develop the skills that employers are looking for in candidates.

Business management vs. accounting: Skills needed to succeed

After analyzing job listings from the past year we were able to uncover a list of skills needed for these two careers. Understanding the skills needed to work as a management or accounting professional might help you envision what to expect when you’re in the job.

Top Skills

In-demand management skills In-demand accounting skills
Business analyst Accounting
Project management Microsoft Excel
Microsoft Office Account reconciliation
Business process General ledger
Budgeting Financial statements
SQL Budgeting
Customer service Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP)
Data analysis Financial reporting
Process improvement Microsoft Office
Scheduling Auditing (internal and external)

The difference in skills required among managers and accountants stems from their varied responsibilities. These career paths may share some similar skill sets, but at their core, the functions of their positions are very different.

And while specific skills and abilities will always vary by positions, becoming aware of the different skills needed for these roles can help you determine if your career ambitions best fit with a position in business management or accounting.

Business management vs. accounting: Education requirements

You know all the basic facts surrounding job titles, growth, salary and what skills you may need. The last piece of information that you may be wondering about is how long it will take you to obtain either a Business Management or Accounting degree.

The good news is that neither field requires graduate school, so you won’t have to be in school for any longer than necessary. However, almost all jobs in business management and accounting require a Bachelor’s degree.

In our job analysis we found that 91 percent of job openings for management analyst positions required a Bachelor’s degree.1 For accountants, this number rose to 98 percent of employers seeking candidates with Bachelor’s degrees.1 And while four years may seem like a long commitment, the amount of schooling does balance out some with the potential for higher-than-average salaries.

Business management vs. accounting: Your choice

If you’re thinking that’s a lot of information to consider, you’re right. Making a career choice is never easy, but knowing the facts can help narrow down your choices. Regardless of how you do it, there are plenty of options available to you in both business and accounting.

Choosing a degree doesn’t have to be difficult. Now that you have the facts, it’s time to make a decision. If you are still on the fence, you can learn more about what you can do with a Business Management degree or learn more about what jobs you can get with a Finance degree.

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1Burning-Glass.com (analysis of 224,551 accounting jobs, 2,386,782 management jobs and 225,760 management analyst jobs Nov. 1, 2016- Oct. 31, 2017).
2Salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries and employment conditions in your area may vary.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This article was originally published in December 2013. It has since been updated to include information relevant to 2018.

Anna Heinrich

Anna is a Copywriter at Collegis Education who researches and writes student-focused content on behalf of Rasmussen University. She believes the power of the written word can help educate and assist students on their way to a rewarding education.

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